Sunday, 6 January 2013

VC and the Primary Science Quality Mark™

The National Space Centre (NSC) in Leicester is a Janet VC content provider. It provides sessions about the Solar System, Earth,Sun and Moon, E-Missions and Living and Working in Space via video conference for students aged 5 - 16 all over the UK and internationally. This means that schools can link directly to the NSC via a secure and interoperable video connection at anytime from anywhere.

The Primary Science Quality Mark™  (PSQM) is a joint project led by the Association for Science Education, the national network of Science Learning Centres, and Barnet Local Authority. The PSQM is an international award scheme to develop and celebrate the quality of science teaching and learning in primary schools. Schools can achieve bronze, silver and gold awards. Schools gain certification for PSQM within a 6 - 9 month period. In this time period they are required to complete a self review, write an action plan, collect evidence and write critical reflections against 13 different criteria all aimed to build a framework to support and improve teaching and learning in primary science. Click here to see see the PSQM criteria.

Parklands Junior School (PJS) in the London Borough of Havering are currently applying for a silver award. Similar to many other primary schools across the UK they find it difficult to find and afford to bring specialist scientists into their classrooms.  Therefore, the science subject leader at Parklands Juniors, Janice Denham, decided to arrange a video conference with the NCS with the theme of "Ask the Expert".  Through doing this Jan was able to meet PSQM criteria B3, C1, C3 and D2 all of which aim to maximise learning opportunities and engage and motivate pupils learning through science.
The pupils had many questions to ask about space during the hour long conference. For example: How do astronauts put on their space suits? What types of stars are there in our solar system?  What types of food do astronauts eat? Chris Darby, Education Manager, at the NSC led the session via a live video link from 120 miles away to the Year 6 pupils who sat in their classroom in Romford. He shared images and video clips via video link to support facts and theories to answer questions that the pupils had prepared to ask him.

Jan Denham class teacher and science subject leader at PJS quoted: Linking via video conference to the NSC meant that my pupils were able to meet a space expert whilst still being in their classroom. It would have taken a lot of my time to prepare and plan for a school visit to the Midlands and it would have been very expensive for the school to fund the visit. We saved time and money through making this video link and we have met many of the criteria for the PSQM along the way. The VC also means that the questions my pupils had about space were answered immediately by an expert on an one to one basis helping broaden their knowledge and understanding of space.

The National Space centre uses VC regularly via the Janet VC Services to reach out to schools that are unable to visit the centre due to the costs involved with travel. Chris Darby said: By linking via VC to the NSC all schools can experience meeting an space expert where ever they are located in the country.

Click here to find out more about VC opportunities with the NSC.

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